A look back to the beginning of the Riverview Goodfellows

Jerry Perry

With the Christmas season now passsed, I’m going to give you a little history of the Riverview Goodfellows Association. 

Most of my followers aren’t old enough to remember when the Riverview Goodfellows 

Association (Motto: No child without a  Christmas) began, but I’m going to go back in time when it was started.

The Riverview Goodfellows Association, was originally partnered with the Trenton Goodfellows and was called the Trenton-Riverview Goodfellows. 

It all started around 1928 with some very caring men from Trenton and Riverview. Charter members were Jones L. Risk, W.F.Von Moll, Max Ellias, Arthur J. Kloock, and William Tiefer. All from Trenton. 

Riverview was to come along later with men like Max Stanberry, a teacher at F.B. Sibley School; Martin Weinlander, Superintendent of the Riverview School District; William Hetzman, principal of Sibley School; William Cuddy, janitor at F.B.Sibley School; Andrew B. Davis, Riverview Chief of Police; Leroy Melms, Don Highfield and Royal Williams, All have since passed. May they rest in Peace. 

And of course, Jack R. Shoup, retired chief of police who is still with us. 

The Association started with a simple idea in mind, and that was to give every child a Christmas and, “Helping families less fortunate than your own.”

They called themselves “Old News Boys Goodfellows Association”. 

Over the years, the Goodfellows paper was just a special edition of the local newspaper, that was until the year Max Stanberry, a very popular Riverview teacher and longtime Riverview resident, returned from a trip to Las Vegas, with a gag newspaper depicting him being arrested as a horse thief. 

He thought it would be a good idea to fashion the Goodfellows paper in the same manner. So one of the first papers to do so was printed and sold in 1963 as the Trenton-Riverview Goodfellows edition. 

The article was headlined “IMPEACHMENT” in bold letters.The article read that “Confusion in the Trenton and Riverview areas due to the Hot War waged by the long divided and conquered American Indian and that by Christmas Eve, all residents would be paying to Chief Loud-Voice Elzior Broche and Milton-Tom-pee-saw-Mitchell.” 

Some of the locals read the article and actually believed it. Needless to say it caused quite a stir in the area. There were no disclaimers or comments like “Don’t believe everything you are reading” or “Just Kidding”. 

The Trenton-Riverview joint paper was printed two more years using the same gag theme, Articles that headlined. “Riverview Sewage Treatment Plant being used as a Distillery” and “President L.B. Johnson to visit,” 

The Trenton-Riverview Goodfellows lasted until 1966, when Riverview members decided it was time to go on their own and formed The Riverview Old News boys, Goodfellows Association. 

The first to chair the newly formed organization was a fellow by the name of Edward Mann. The year the Riverview Goodfellows were on their own was the year the historical “Riverview Razzberry” was born. 

This time the paper had all kinds of disclaimers, like: Published in the spirit of fun, Don’t believe it and This paper was prepared for the amusement of all and the discomfort of none.

 The first article was a real hit with all who read it, and will probably never be matched again. It was headlined “U.F.O.S Land in the Forest.”

The article was mostly aimed at Riverview police officers, who shall remain anonymous. It was hilarious and to this day some believe it really happened. 

The Second article to cause quite a stir was one that headlined “All Marriages Performed by the Riverview Mayor Pete Rotteveel are null and void. 

This one caused one wife, whose marriage was performed by by Pete, to call, crying, “How could you do such a thing to us?” 

Down through the years, a lot of fun was had by the writers who wished to remain anonymous and used names like, Jose Chauncey, Deputy Dawg, Captain Midnite, Wee R. Rite, A. Roomer, I.C. Gull and Don E Brooke. 

The paper also had the city purchasing the Sibley Quarry, The Boblo boats, McLouth Steel, Detroit Mayor, Colman A. Young being elected Riverview Mayor and the landfill erupting.

All these crazy articles had unknown writers. Some of the Riverview members who were there every year standing on their favorite corner selling papers shied away from the limelight of the presidential chairs, workers such as Floyd Fountain, Mike Hale, Ben Masserant, Ernie Bonacor, Ray Blair, Paul Stav, Adam Molnar, just to name a few. 

The tradition continues today, only now more women are involved. People standing on corners and intersections selling Goodfellows newspaper edition to raise money to support the local Goodfellows program. 

A special mention has to be made about the soup and sandwiches provided to all the corner workers, for many years by the late Kathrine Vreeland. May she rest in Peace. 

And now to all the tireless workers who keep the tradition going: A very sincere and hearty thank you. 

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